For many of West Virginia's deer hunters, the antlerless-deer season is over.
Nine days remain, however, for those who still wish to bring home a doe or a button buck - the three-day "traditional" antlerless season Dec. 13-15 and the "family" antlerless season Dec. 26-27 and 28-31.
"Hunters should not overlook the portion of the antlerless hunting that is left," said Paul Johansen, assistant wildlife chief for the state Division of Natural Resources. "There are plenty of deer out there, and these remaining segments of the antlerless season provide plenty of opportunities for our sportsmen to put some extra venison in the freezer."
The first opportunity will occur during the traditional season, which DNR officials dramatically altered for 2012.
In years past, the traditional season lasted six days and began in early December. The traditional season that begins Dec. 13 will last three days. DNR officials changed the configuration to compensate for a new three-day, late-October antlerless season.
"Basically, what we did was to split the traditional season and move three days of it to October," Johansen explained. "The difference between the two segments is that the October portion was open only on private lands. The December part is open on public and private lands, with restrictions on some wildlife management areas."
The devil is in the details, of course, so public-land hunters who want to avoid trouble should consult the DNR hunting regulations pamphlet for the names of wildlife management areas that will remain open during the three-day hunt.
In the traditional season's former six-day December configuration, it accounted for roughly one-fourth of the state's annual antlerless-deer harvest. Johansen doesn't expect the upcoming three-day season to be quite that productive.